I bought a brand new car back in 2012 and have had it ever since. The owners manual gave me a long list of things to repair and maintain at various milestones in the car’s life. Change this at 50,000 miles, recharge this at 100,000, etc.
Most of us don’t do all of those things and prefer to be reactionary when something breaks down. Yeah, we’ll change the oil and perform basic maintenance, but we’re going to get more miles out of that air filter than they say we can.
In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, I think they should go above and beyond to maintain the fine-tuned engine they have offensively. They should be as proactive as my Scion’s manual wants me to be — even if it seems excessive.
In the last three drafts, I’ve been an advocate for the Chiefs addressing the defensive side of the football with their first pick in the draft — specifically at cornerback. The Chiefs have largely neglected the position be it in free agency or the draft — no cornerback has been taken outside of day three of the draft. The last two drafts have seen general manager Brett Veach address offensive skill players with his first selection — something I always understood but would have preferred a different approach.
Before the 2019 draft, my co-host on the AP Draft Show, Jacob Stack, introduced the #Score100 movement — continually adding on offense to keep the offense humming and take it to new heights. I’ve never been completely opposed to the idea — just have historically preferred a different approach. A new perspective finally hit me this week on the idea of investing early assets on the position that made me both understand and become an advocate for it.
Patrick Mahomes makes the difference
I’ve always viewed the idea as a discussion about creating an offense with the highest ceiling. What resonated with me is when I finally looked at it as maintaining an extremely high floor offensively. The goal should be to give Patrick Mahomes more than enough to keep this offense in the top three. You could argue that won’t take much, but you also can never have too many pieces around a generational talent like the Chiefs now have in Mahomes. When I look at it as maintenance instead of getting greedy offensively, I like the philosophy more.
Even though Veach has yet to address cornerback with an early pick, his first two drafts saw the Chiefs take at least two defensive players with their first three picks. This past draft, the Chiefs took two offensive players with their top three picks — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and offensive tackle Lucas Niang. I will advocate for offensive picks early and often like they did this past April. The Chiefs should take an approach of being a year early at any major offensive position. Having a player with at least a year under his belt before stepping into a critical role offensively isn’t a bad approach and one they are doing with Niang if they keep him at tackle.
Maintaining an offensive strength in a scoring league is the best way to maintain a championship team and get the most out of the best player in the world. It’s not that Mahomes needs all the help in the world; it’s that he doesn’t have to carry the burden by surrounding him with day three picks on offense. Give him as much help as you can and he’ll reward you with greatness for the next 15 years — even when you’re having to pay him handsomely.
Embracing the downsides
There are downsides to this approach, sure. But that’s where Veach and company will get creative. The Chiefs likely are going to be in the bottom five spending at a position I’ve wanted them to address early in the last three drafts — cornerback. They’ve gotten creative by getting exceptional safeties to help support the position — another creative way to help stay cost-controlled outside. If you’re going to be top-heavy offensively in the first two days of the draft, you’ll have to take more swings defensively on day three. The Chiefs smartly double-dipped at cornerback in the fourth and seventh rounds of this past draft with L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes. Cornerback is a critical-but-fickle position, and the Chiefs gave themselves two great lottery tickets with minimal investment.
The fantastic staff the Chiefs have built on the defensive side of the ball will go a long way in helping them deal with lesser assets if they continue to feed the pipeline on offense.
Andy Reid prioritized his defensive staff in the turnover from Bob Sutton, and his group was able to make do with a lack of talent in some areas of the defense. What they lacked in talent, they made up for in assignment football. This isn’t to say the Chiefs should ignore that side of the ball, either — they just might have to do it with less draft capital. As attrition occurs on defense, that pipeline will have to continue to be fed.
Mahomes is going to get the most out of everyone in the huddle with him — the Chiefs should keep filling that huddle with premium picks. He will help them reach their potential, and Kansas City will be primed to reap the reward of compensatory picks for any players they have to move on for budgetary reasons. If the Chiefs keep loading up offensively, they’ll have a group that score on anyone and will be in contention for a Super Bowl every year. They made it within six inches of the final game with one of the worst defenses in the league.
With a good staff and some development from lesser draft picks, they can still maintain a good enough defense for championships (plural).